Title: The Last Newspaper Boy in America
Author: Sue Corbett
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Concepts: jobs, saving, unemployment, profit, innovation, inventions
Review: Just one more day and Wil David would turn twelve, finally old enough to take over the newspaper delivery route from his older brother (and before him his older brother, and their father, and their grandfather, and even their great grandfather). He had dreamed about that day for so long, the day he could finally start earning enough money to buy his own laptop computer. Wil was understandably devastated when the circulation manager called their house to say that The Cooper County Caller would end home delivery to their small town, Steele.
Further digging yielded an explanation: the company that owned the newspaper decided that Steele had become unprofitable and unappealing to advertisers, who wanted the paper to circulate in high quality routes with large markets for their products. The population in Steele was starting to dwindle in size and in purchasing power, especially since the main source of employment, the hairpin factory, had closed. Refusing to accept this justification, Wil embarked on a mission to save his job as newspaper boy, and also to provide residents in Steele with continued delivery of the news and information to which they were entitled. Little did he realize that this undertaking would become enmeshed with an undercover sting operation involving a carnival swindler, a large amount of money, and a ferocious dog named Jake.
This meticulously-written novel gets two thumbs up, particularly for the well-developed characters and the rich infusion of economics lessons from start to finish. The town's economic slump and growing unemployment, Wil's desire to save up for a laptop, and the economic history behind the development and the closure of the hairpin factory are all skillfully woven into an interesting storyline that will grab the attention of middle grade readers.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children